29 March, 2011

Learning Guarani

I am glad to hear that you are focusing on the less actives more. Really it is the duty of the wards. The wards here blame the missionaries for the inactivity in the wards, but our job as missionaries should just be to teach and baptize the people and let the wards focus on retention. Unfortunately here, we have to do the both, as well as many times pretty much serve as the bishop. There really are so many families that just need more support from the members so that they can return to the church again. Our area is... very interesting. We are literally in the middle of nowhere. Every direction that I look in our area I just see trees. We are about an hour away from all other cities. Our area is pretty small, the actual city anyway. We have to walk a lot, because there are streets that just go out in the fields and stuff. The people here speak pretty much just Guarani..... If they speak spanish, they don't understand it very well. Anyway, we've been studying a lot in Guarani to be able to communicate with the people, and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to speak it pretty well by the end of my time here in this area. Our church started an hour late, and so we just skipped preisthood, and had sunday school, and then sacrament meeting. The entire meeting was in just Guarani... so I didn't really understand all that much, and had a headache after trying to listen for a while. Our ward pretty much consists of a family machuca and all of their relatives. There are pretty much just women and children in the ward, adn almost all of the women are breaking the law of chastity. We have one man that was recently baptized, our investigator that is going to be baptized the 9th, and the branch president that is from a different area. There were 28 that attended, so pretty much all women and children. The branch is pretty much just a big mess, so we have a lot of work to do. Most of the people just don't really understand the gospel. Our problem is that almost all of them are single women with children, and our mission has a rule that we don't teach single women, and we don't have men to go with us. Anyway besides the ward we are doing really well. We found a lot of good investigators, and have been working really well. We have two investigators that went to chuch. One is the boyfriend of the member that has a baptizmal date. The other is a women that is deaf and can't speak. It has been quite difficult to try and teach her, but she wants to be baptized, so we are doing everything that we can. The people in this area are even more poor than in other parts of Paraguay. The typicial person lives on about 10 mil guarani every day, which is the equivelent of 2 dolars. It's really sad to see the poverty here, and the biggest problem is that there are so many single women with lots of children. They find a boyfriend, and have more children, and then the guy leaves them, and so on... There is pretty much no such thing as chastity here. Well anyway, things are going better, we are now able to cook better, and we are good and safe in our house. I hope all is going well with you guys, my prayers are with you dad, I know you will do a fantastic job. I know that God called you there for a god reason and that you will bless the lives of many people as the bishop of our ward. I love you guys, and thank you for the letters. Hasta luego. -Elder Ryan Griffin

24 March, 2011


Well it has been a good week. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf. On Monday last week I was feeling a little bit fevered on the p-day. The next day I woke up with muscle pains in my back and legs, and a splitting headache. I took my temperature, and it was at 101. We went to the district meeting and I felt even worse when we got back. I was kind of frustrated with other things, and got a little bit down. I knew it says in my Patriarchal blessing that I would be protected from sickness and injury so that my work won't be inturrupted, so I was starting to wonder why i was getting sick so much. I decided to get down on my knees, and ask heavenly father that he could help me through it, and that I would be able to work. We went out after lunch, and went to a couple of appointments. It was hot and I was still feeling sick. Then we had planned to go to a young man that we had contacted a while ago, and we found him in his house for the first time. We taught him the first lesson and set a baptismal date with him. After the lesson, I felt completely fine, no headache or anything. I know that it was a miracle, and that the Lord was waiting for me to put his faith in him. Had I decided not to go out and work, we probably never would have found or talked to him, and I would have still been sick. It really helped me strengthen my faith, and have more trust in the Lord. The next Tuesday we recieved the changes. I left El Alto, and I'm now in an area called Acahay, which is an area that has been closed for a while now. So I got sent to open an area, and my companion is Elder Watson who has 1 year 3 months in the mission. He is from California, so my first American companion, finally! The town we are in is literally in the middle of nothing. There is just forest and fields surrounding our area. We didn't know any of the members, nor where the house was or anything for that matter. The only thing they gave us is the number of the district leader here. They sent us off on a collectivo, after waiting for 3 hours in the terminal, and went on a bus for 3 more hours. We got off the bus and luckily we were right by a taxi stop. We got in a taxi, and after 45 minutes of driving around found our house. We unpacked a little bit, and then went out to work at 3 or so. We only had a big map, so we couldn't bring it with us, and had to just wing it. We called the district leader who gave us the number of a member that lives here. We called them, and miraculously found their house. We talked with them a little bit, and then she sent her son to show us some other people in the area. We met a couple other members, and one of them told us that her sisters boyfriend has gone to church and wants to be baptized. We went over to that house, and taught them a lesson, and set a baptismal date. He has already attended twice, and they want to be married. She is a member, and he wants to be baptized. He has already read almost all of Principles of the Gospel, because he didn't have a Book of Mormon. We then went to a less active family that have a daughter, and a friend that both want to be baptized. We literally were guided in the day by the spirit, considering the fact that we knew absolutely nothing about the area. We had a great first day, and then returned to the house after buying some stuff to cook. The office gave us a new refrigerator, which was nice. Unfortunately our oven they gave us doesn't work, so we thought about using the microwave. Well, unfortunately they also didn't give us anything to use in the oven. All we have is a microwave, a pot, some utincels, two plates, and 1 glass (they broke the other 3). Anyway, I got the package with the changes, and so needless to say, I have been living off of the cookies for a day now, because we can't cook anything. Thank you for sending the package..... with like 15 cookies. They gave us old matresses, and mine is terrible, and it was hard to sleep. We have no airconditioning, the heater in the shower is broken..... well pretty much everything they gave us is broken, or at least really really old. Regarless I know that everything will work out, and the Lord will help us with what we need. My companion is awesome, he is obedient, and happy. I feel like I have gone from one end of the spectrum to the other with companions. All the sudden I am more happy, and feel a lot better about the work. I am excited to work in this area, and know that the Lord will help us with whatever we need. I haven't taken any pictures yet, but I will try and send some by the next p-day. I love you guys, and hope that all is going well in the house. I hit 9 months in the mission yesterday.... I can't believe how fast the time goes by in the mission. I'll talk to you guys on Monday, and let you know how it's going in the area.

15 March, 2011

Trunky companion

Hola familia, ¿Que tal? Well this week has been a little bit rough again. I am just ready to get a change finally in a week. The problem is that my companion is more and more trunky every day, and has less and less desire to work in the day. I honestly feel like I am companions with Satan sometimes.... He is just really negative, and it makes it hard to stay positive. Not to mention the fact that we can't keep investigators for more than a week, so we have to walk around looking for pèople a lot. Anyway, I am still trying to keep going and finish out this change, but it has definitely been a trial. I have been kind of down with the fact that I have only had 1 baptism in three changes with a companion that is so challenging. this week though I have really realized that I have been with him for a reason, and that even though I haven't had a whole lot of fruits in the changes, I have definitely planted a lot of seeds. I have been reading Jesus the Christ a lot, and I read about the parabol of the (sembrador?) I'm not sure what it is in English. Anyway, it's the one about the 4 types of soil where the seeds fall. I've been thinking a lot that as missionaries we are the planters of the seeds, but we can't choose the type of soil, nor can we force the tree to grow. All we can do is do our part to nourish it, and have the faith that it will grow to bear fruits. Although I haven't seen a whole lot of fruits yet during my mission, I honestly feel like I am working as hard as I can to plant the seeds and nourish them. I have done all of my part to help the people, and maybe my roll as a missionary isn't as much a harvester, but rather a planter of the seeds. Although it has been hard working so much without seeing many fruits, I know that the Lord is testing my faith, and that as long as I keep working, the Lord will do what's best. Although my faith has failed many times during these changes, and I have felt negative at times, I know that I just need to keep moving forward, and be the best missionary I can be. This week the weather has been changing a little bit, it's finally cooling down slowly. It makes it a lot easier to work when it's a little bit colder, because I don't sweat so much. I have gained a little bit of weight, I'm now at 160 or so, about 20 pounds in one year.... not too bad. Pretty much all my pants are a little tight aroung the waist now, but don't worry, I'm not really fat, I'm just not skinny now. I am still the same height, my hair is a little lighter colored now, and my skin.... well not so much. Pretty much all of my clothes are in pretty good shape, the shirts aren't exactly white now, but they aren't too terrible yet. My Spanish, after 5 changes with only Latinos, as you can imagine is getting pretty much fluent now. I actually have to use easier words in the lessons now, because the people here don't speak very well. There are about 3 Americans to 1 Latino in the mission, so it's a good chance that I won't be with another Latin this next change, but I just hope that I get somebody that actually wants to work. The mission has gotten a little bit more strict now. They want us to already be out on the streets at 10 (so without Language Study, even though in Preach my Gospel it says we should study it every day) and they told us we only have 20 minutes to eat, and 10 minutes to share a message with the people. They want us to count every second of the day that our "line is in the water," or in other words whenever we are talking to people. I understand their purpose in doing it, but I think it's kind of wierd to be timing our contacts and our lessons..... Anyway, it's kind of tough sometimes, because the president gives us rules sometimes that are against what it says in Preach My Gospel, and I want to be obedient, but I don't know which one I should follow. Preach my gospel is from the apostles, but it also says that we should obey the president..... kind of a tricky situation.... Well, anyway, wish Taylor a happy Birthday for me, since I won't be able to talk to you guys till the 24. I love you guys, and I hope that all is well in the house. I'll talk to you in a week and a half. -Elder Griffin

08 March, 2011

Serving the Lord or serving time?

Hola familia, Well this week has still been hard, but it went a lot better than the last week. Well my companion is just getting more and more lazy, because at this point he only has 100 days left. I talked to him about everything, and he has pretty much just said: "sorry, but I am just worn out from the mission, and I don't have any more energy. I have no desire to be working out here anymore, so I am just going to follow you." Well regardless it has been hard, because if I suggest that we go out right after lunch or anything, he just gets mad, and tells me that he is going to rest for a little while. It has been frustrating, and I don't really want to try to call the leaders, because that will just make it so we are both mad at each other. Anyway, it has been a battle, but I guess they say that every misisonary has a part of their mission that is a "gethsemani," well I'm pretty sure these three changes have been mine. I definitely has been a trial, but at the same time I have learned a ton from having to pretty much be the senor companion. It has been a tough 4 months, but at the same time I think I've grown a lot in the trials. On Sunday, after our lunch appointment, my companion wanted to go back to the apartment and sleep. I was tired, and had a headache, but I didn't want to waste our time. I told him we are going to go to a part of the area, and he got all mad at me, and we got in an argument. Needless to say, he tells me that I am a dog, and that I just want to please the president, and that I just wanted to get more numbers. It's honestly like trying to convince a brick wall with him. He does not understand the concept of doing what God wants us to do, and doing it for the right reason.... I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I've been trying to help him understand that the obedience isn't for the president, or to get more numbers, that we should do it to help the people more.... but we're still at a stand still with it all. We have two more weeks in the change, and it's almost for sure that I will go, because I already have 4 changes in the area, and three with him. I honestly feel bad for him, because I want to help him, but it has just been tough trying to get him to change his view. The biggest problem is, that he thinks the mission is just come out here, and "stand it" for 2 years, and then God will bless you. He has the concept of serving time, instead of the Lord. Well on the good side of things, we found 12 new investigators this week that we can now teach this week, and hopefully we can find some fore this week as well to be able to have people to teach. Also Fernando is doing really well now, he recieved the priesthood, and is now a priest. He also got assigned a companion for home teaching, and is excited to do it. His family has been a little bit harder. We haven't really seen a whole lot of progress there, but we have a family home evening with them tonight, so we are hoping we can help soften their hearts. Our ward got a new second councilor..... because the old one, a return missionary, fell away, and is now drinking and smoking. We went yesterday on divisions with the 1st and 2nd concilors and taught some less-actives, and some investigators. We are seeing a little bit more help from the ward now, and we hope we can start seeing even more. Well, I love you guys tons. I hope everything keeps going well with you all, and I'll talk to you next week. -Elder Ryan Griffin

01 March, 2011

The sacrament, a renewal of commitment

Hola familia, Well thank you a ton for the letter Dad, I learned a lot from everything you said. Well, this has been probably one of the hardest weeks of my misison honestly. My companion only has like 3 months left in the mission, and so he has no desire to do anything in the work or anything. We have lost the majority of our investigators, the members don't do anything to help us, and some have even started falling away from the church, and then on top of all of that it was raining almost all the week. Honestly I have just felt overwhelmed this week, and have had very little desire to force my companion to work. ONe of the biggest problems, is that when it rains here, people go in their house, shut the doors, and sleep. And, since we don't have very many investigators, it has been hard. My companion just sleeps all the time, and I finally got to the point that I just let him, and just studdied instead of trying to go out and work. We only taught 13 lessons during the week, but more important than the numbers, is that I really don't feel like I put forth all of my effort this week to help the people. It´s interesting what you said in the letter, because it's a lot of the things that I have learned in my studies during the week. I have been reading a lot of Jesus the Christ, while I was waiting for my companion to wake up, and have learned a ton from reading it. I really liked what you said in the letter, that the lord may not take away our burdens, but he will help us get through them. When I took the sacrament this week, I was thinking a lot about this past week, and felt regretful that I hadn't done all that I could during the week. When I took the sacrament, I felt all the fear, the frustration and everything that I had been feeling during the week leave, and it was replaced with a new love toward my Savior. I really am so grateful for his atoning sacrifice, and that he died to make it posible to overcome the weaknesses that I have. I feel like a different person now, and have the desire to work as hard as I can during the rest of my mission. I never again want to feel the regret of not having done everything that I could to help the people here. During this week, we were walking through a little stream that is filled with trash in our area to get to a different area. My companion stepped on a packet of milk that had water and rotten milk inside. It splattered all over the both of us, on our clothes, face, and everything. We had to go 20 minutes back to the house, take a shower, and change our clothes to go back out to work. Fernando, our recent convert is doing really well. He applied for a job, and under religion, put "Mormon." In this week the people told him that he won't be able to work their because he is Mormon, and rejected him from the job. Unfortunately, it's Paraguay, so there's not really anything to protect against that. Fortunately, he is still doing well, and just was a little frustrated that they did that. On Sunday, we had a special fireside with President Arnold of the 70, the President of the area South America South. It was a special fireside for recent converts, and investigators and us. We brought Fernando, and tow of our investigators met us their. One of them didn't seem like he cared, but the other one was really impressed, and we are going to keep working with him. Well, that's about all that has happened during the week. I love you guys, and thank you so much for all your love and support. Sorry that I've had a couple of negative emails in that past couple weeks. I hope all is going well with you guys, and I'll talk to you next week. Love ya tons! -Elder Ryan Griffin